Everyday activities—down from the mundane to the complicated—play a major part in waste production. It is estimated that people produce 4.3 pounds of daily waste individually, and if taken together, they can account for the heaps and tons of produced waste materials each year around the world. In the United States alone, an estimate of 208 millions tons of solid waste is produced every year. That excludes the liquid, gaseous, and other forms of waste materials, which are also considerably high in amount. As the global population booms, waste production is expected to increase in speed and measure, and unless proper waste management is practiced in households, companies, universities, industries, and practically everywhere, Earth will eventually turn into one big garbage planet, where pollution and waste-induced diseases are widespread.
Waste management is essentially the systematic handling of garbage. It involves the proper way of collection, transportation, and disposal of waste materials. Waste management has been a significant issue addressed in the modern and industrialized generation largely owing to the fact that more waste materials are produced today than during the early generations, a critical increase resulting from population explosion and industrial revolution.
While it seems to be a modern response to waste production, waste management is not at all a new practice. Records from all over the world showed that early people had a way of managing and regulating their garbage. One of the common ways of waste management before was digging pits to contain solid wastes. As the civilization progressed, waste management practices became more regulated. As far back as 500 BC, for instance, there were existing policies in Athens Greece that required people to dispose of their waste materials in areas at least one mile from city limits. In 1388, the English Parliament in England banned waste disposal into the water systems. And in 1885, the United States built its first incinerator.
Waste management methods and procedures have improved since then, with emphasis on their relevance to modernity and quantity of produced waste. Incineration, for instance, is still a common process of waste disposal. With the use of incinerators, waste materials are combusted and are converted to energy. This waste-to-energy benefit is proven helpful to many industries, although there have been environmental and health concerns over the creation and emission of dangerous pollutants and chemicals during the burning process.
Using landfills is also a common method of waste disposal. Landfills are basically a big piece of lot where truckloads of waste are gathered and buried. In some countries, using landfills is the most common way of waste disposal primarily because they are relatively cheap and don’t require intricate machineries. Since landfills can potentially attract vermin and emit dangerous landfill gas, landfills have to be well-designed and credibly managed.
Waste management is also targeting to minimize waste, an effort that eventually gave way to the global campaign to recycle. Recycling means reprocessing some or all parts of an item to make a new or completely different product. Scrap metals and papers are two of the most recycled materials today. To date, several people and organizations are committed to recycling, whose collaborated efforts are contributing to proper waste management.